Dipping a toe into Home Automation

I recently had my kitchen counters redone with granite, which led to some related projects. If you redo the countertops you pretty much have to redo the backsplash, so we found a nice glass and natural stone mosaic tile. We also did under-cabinet lighting with LED light bars. The lighting project offered an opportunity for home automation.

The implementation of the lights were as follows:

  • Two new power outlets, one above each bank of cabinets.
    • The kitchen is separated into two halves, so wiring them together wasn’t an option
  • One light switch to control both outlets.

Rather than wiring the new switch to the new outlets, which i wasn’t really qualified to do, I used z-wave outlets and switch. The point was to be able to wirelessly control the outlets with the switch. Seems pretty straightforward initially.

Was Z-Wave the right protocol?

In the long run, Z-Wave is the right choice because I haveĀ plans beyond this project. However, if simple wireless control was the only goal, I could have done it simpler and cheaper using a protocol that doesn’t depend on a hub like Insteon. Though at the time, I assume Z-Wave didn’t require a hub. But keep that in mind – Z-Wave does require a hub.

Strike OneĀ – PC based hub

Trying to keep to a budget, I avoided getting a dedicated HA hub. I was also still under the false impression that once the Z-Wave devices were associated, they wouldn’t need the hub. So I got an Aeon Labs USB Z-Wave hub and installed the trial version of InControl HA Server. This worked, with caveats: a) the PC had to be on for anything to work, and b) it was really slow, like 20-seconds between hitting the switch and the outlets activating. There are several variables that might cause this – from wifi latency to software issues. get backlinks free . After some consideration I decided that a dedicated hub was required because using a dedicated PC or leaving my personal computer on all the time were not really options.

Strike Two – Going the dedicated hub route…coming in part 2.